Eagles ride big second half to win

The Associated Press
Steve Reed

CHARLOTTE, N.C.–Carson Wentz said he saw some things from the Carolina Panthers he hadn’t seen on film leading to three first-half sacks and plenty of pressure.
It didn’t bother the Philadelphia Eagles’ second-year quarterback.
Wentz came up big in a huge game, throwing for 222 yards and three touchdowns against one of the NFL’s top defences as the Eagles beat the Panthers 28-23 last night to improve to an NFC-best 5-1.
“We kept backs in to handle their linebackers and we did a better job cleaning it up in the second half,” noted Wentz, who wasn’t sacked after halftime.
The Eagles turned two interceptions deep in Carolina territory into 15 points.
Wentz teamed with Zach Ertz on two touchdown passes while LaGarrette Blount scored on a two-point conversion run for an 18-10 lead in the third quarter.
Wentz added a 24-yard scoring pass to Nelson Agholor in the fourth quarter.
“He’s a great leader of this football team, even in his second year,” Eagles’ coach Doug Pederson said about Wentz.
“Guys really respect the way he plays. It’s exciting to see that.”
Cam Newton threw three interceptions for Carolina (4-2).
The first two interceptions came inside Carolina’s 20 but weren’t Newton’s fault.
He was hit by Fletcher Cox as he released one pass while running back Jonathan Stewart bobbled another pass resulting in a pick.
Newton’s third interception–by Jalen Mills with 3:06 left–ended a chance for the go-ahead score.
Carolina had one last shot to win but turned it over on downs at midfield.
“We gave them lay-ups, giving them the ball inside our 20,” Newton said. “Against a good team like that, well, that’s not good ingredients to win.
“We can’t put our defence in that type of position,” he stressed.
Panthers’ middle linebacker Luke Kuechly was placed into the concussion protocol after his body crumpled following a collision with Eagles’ pulling guard Brandon Brooks.
Kuechly missed nine games over the past two seasons with two concussions.
All of the Eagles’ touchdowns came after Kuechly left the game late in the second quarter.
Panthers’ cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said it won’t be easy to replace Keuchly, adding “Luke is a big part of what we do.”
“You say a quick prayer but then the game has to go on,” noted defensive tackle Kawann Short.
Newton gave the Panthers a 10-3 lead on his 51st career touchdown rushing in the second quarter.
He kept the ball on a read option and juked cornerback Rasul Douglas on the 16-yard run.
Douglas got revenge on Carolina’s next possession, though, intercepting Newton’s pass after Cox crashed into Newton as he was throwing, causing the ball to float high into the air.
After a two-game absence due to a calf injury, Cox returned and was a dominant force.
Along with the tipped pass on Newton’s interception, he also had a sack and two quarterback hurries.
“There’s no way I could sit him tonight,” Pederson said.
“It was too important to him.”
Meanwhile, if it hadn’t been for Newton, the Panthers would not have had any running game to speak of last night.
Newton ran for 71 yards and the touchdown, but running backs Jonathan Stewart, Christian McCaffrey, and Fozzy Whittaker were limited to one yard on 13 carries.
“We have a lot of things to look at. We really do,” Panthers’ coach Ron Rivera said of the running game.